for Joe Cote 1931-1994

He burned down his brown leather arm chair
Where he was the smoker of fat cigars, strumming a blue guitar.
When Joe was king, a shrine of fulgent bottles
Were voodoo candelabra, the drinker’s dawn shrine.
He slept drunk, woke thirsty, visited each bottle
For the dregs, spirit of Labrusca, vint of wild forest morning,
Inebriate of the word, celebrating the spirant rhyme.

When Joe was standing he was falling,
Tottering , atilt, between balance and ambulation,
Between articulation and gibberish,
Falling amid improprieties of diction and dance,
Reeling when he came down hard,
Disgusted by some too sober bard.

Chaos was his maid and muse, books were strewn,
Words lost in the rug, his bottle library
For the lonely voyages of the reader, weeks on end
His drunken boat, his liturgy, his spring, verb sap

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